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Christoff cashes in

Herman Fouch├®, overnight leader, lost his grasp on the first position after stage two and the Professionals’ Race of the Le Coq Sportif Tour de Boland on Wednesday when he punctured out of the lead group, and used illegal tactics to get back into contention.

He ended up being penalised for holding on to vehicles, and relegated down the field by having three minutes added to his overall time.

Meanwhile, Christoff van Heerden, MTN/Qhubeka, raced across the line ahead of a fast Johann Rabie (Bonitas) and Darren Lill, DCM, a man not normally considered a fast finisher.

Most eyes are on Lill for the game-changing stage in Friday, up the Paarl Mountain and to the Monument, but not before Van Heerden is going to try survive the climbs of Franschhoek and Du Toit’s Kloof on Thursday. Many a pundit, however, feels that the race is actually between Cristoph Sauser (Songo/Specialized) and Lill.

Wednesday’s 127 kilometre stage saw several breaks attempting to get away, with the riders going over the first climb, Du Toit’s, in single file. Christiaan Kriek, Best Young Rider, and still with the leaders at the end, found the climbs very tough and had to “hang on by sheer hard digging” going up the final bit of Bainskloof.

After the main peleton got together again at the bottom of the descent of Du Toit’s Team RSA Web rider Benjamin Hoeber got in a solo break and soon opened the gap between him and the Peloton to three minutes. He won the second King of the Mountains sprint at the top of Bainskloof with the peloton just a couple of seconds behind him.

With 7km to go the pace heated up and small gaps started appearing in the peloton. At 1 km. to go there was a crash when four riders went down, including Daryl Impey, Shaun-Nick Bester and Ian McLeod but luckily no one was serious injured.

The ASG Junior leaders overall classification is also unchanged with Oliver Stapleton Cotton was dominating again on Wednesday.

In the women’s category Team USN’s Cherise Taylor notched up another victory, bringing her tally to 10 wins since the start of the year and tightening her grip on the Clover Women’s category race leader’s jersey.

After the day’s two main climbs of Bainskloof Pass and Du Toitskloof Pass had thinned the field out somewhat, Taylor outsprinted her five remaining rivals to win the leg in a time of 3:59:18. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Joanna van de Winkel (both Nashua Toyota) finished second and third respectively in a repeat of the first stage finishing positions.

“There was more climbing today than yesterday and again I took strain on the first climb. But once the race got to the middle stages I started to feel stronger. The finish was at the same place as yesterday so I just did the same thing as yesterday and managed to cross the line first,” smiled Taylor.

Time bonuses for the first three positions give Taylor an eight-second lead over Moolman Pasio and 12 seconds over Van de Winkel with two stages remaining.

Thursday’s stage covers a distance of 167km for the Elite and 137 for the Juniors, Women and Veterans in Category 2.

Overall standings
Men:
1 Christoff Van Heerden (MTN Qhubeka) 7hr 2min 19sec, 2 Johan Rabie (BONITAS) 7:02:25, 3 Darren Lill (DCM) 7:02:31
Woman: 1. Cherise Taylor (Team USN) 8:10:58, 2 Ashley Moolman Passio (Toyota Cyclelab) 8:11:06, 3  Joanne Van Der Winkel (Toyota Cyclelab)  8:11:10
Junior Men: 1 Oliver Stapleton Cotton (Intellibus) 8:10:58,  2 Emile Jacobs (Intellibus) 8:11:06, 3 Daniel Stroebel (Mr Price)  8:11:26


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